Round 1 – Sydney v Port Adelaide: Every absurdity has a champion to defend it

Every absurdity has a champion to defend it.

 

 

Sydney vs Port Adelaide

4:10 pm, Sunday, 25 March 2017

The G Minor, Sydney

 

Dan Hansen                                                                           

 

Footy’s on footy’s here again

Back to greet me like an old friend

 

The lyrics from the opening verse of the AFL’s best promotion were never more appropriate. The jaunty little ditty by Greg Champion was stuck in my head as I headed to the SCG (AKA the G Minor), as they are every year leading into round one.

 

My brother Fred had flown in from Adelaide and we were meeting my other brother John at Port Adelaide pre-match function. As we were heading up from Hyde Park the number of Toranas and Commodore VLs parked on Oxford Street increased until we reached the Paddington RSL. Mingling with the other older Port supporters is always good. We usually just raved about our childhood heroes David Granger and Bruce Light. However, I did have a chat with one delusional Swans supporter. If he was right, the game was going to be like a match between the 2017 All-Australian team and the Adelaide Uni A11 team (AKA the Scum) and the Swans were going to win by about fifty goals. He reliably informed me the Swans were the best contested possession team for the last ten seasons and nobody beats them. I told him if he did his research he would find out the Dogs were the best contested possession team in the 2016 and then asked him how the Swans went against the Dogs last year. I also told him the rest of the league has cottoned on to the need for inside mids with a high percentage of hard ball gets. Port had been actively recruiting young guys with good upper body strength. This was why during the draft several years ago Port Adelaide couldn’t yell out Ollie Wines name quick enough and in last year’s draft with selection eighteen Port Power picked the pecks of Powell-Pepper. He missed my obvious mockery and repeated his belief the Swans were going to smash us through superior contested possessions. I guess every absurdity has a champion to defend it.

 

After a few well-deserved beers, we trudge down to the game where we take up our position amongst the other Port supporters behind the goals at the Special Members Entrance end. As the first quarter progressed the midfield battle was an even contest and it was the talls up forward who were making a difference. Franklin and Dixon were proving a handful for their opposition defenders, and Sam Reid and Jackson Trengove as alternatives were causing headaches in the respective coaching boxes. The Swans looked set to go into quarter time with a seven point lead when Pecks Powell-Pepper had the chance from about fifty out to make it a one point deficit. The eighteen year old launched a kick which sailed straight and long and never looked like missing. This made his fellow players, the Port fans in the stand and the head of recruiting very happy. He raised his arms to celebrate. He wasn’t too humble and he wasn’t too exuberant. He celebrated as if he had just scored a century in the backyard at Mum’s.

 

The second quarter started well with two quick goals. Then for the next twenty minutes there were some worrying signs. Port were doing well in the midfield and around the stoppages but they didn’t look like scoring. Going into the last ten minutes of the quarter Port were about two goals down and Sydney threatened to blow the game open. Then two late goals attributable to Wingard’s forward pressure saw Port in front at half time.

 

By halfway through the third term I was starting to feel comfortable. Port were dominating the contested possessions. Ollie Wines , Brad Ebert and Travis Boak were getting the better of their opponents but the most impressive was Paddy Ryder. Not only was he getting the ball down to the midfielders but he was winning plenty of contested ball at ground level. Then there was Wingard and Aaron Young in the forward half. Their pressure created several goals. Until late in the last quarter Sydney were always in striking distance but Port were beating them at their own game. In the end, Port ran out comfortable winners by twenty eight points.

 

The post-match celebrations were great. The fridge behind the bar was full of coldies, but not for long. I caught up with several long-term members of the NSW Port Adelaide supporter group and we were all overjoyed. We had been through a lot of tough losses at the G Minor together and this win was special. We talked to a few officials and they attribute a lot to David Koch’s special guest the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Rumour has it Premier Li addressed the team through and interpreter and he was inspirational. He fired up the boys by stating, not only the importance of getting contested possessions but retaining contested possessions. And that’s exactly how the Port players played. Premier Li must have done his research to know so much about the nuances of the game. Either that or he was talking about the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. In the end this game was about contested possessions and Port (and China) came out on top.

 

That’s what football means to me

That’s how I like my footy to be.

 

SYDNEY                     4.3    8.5    10.6    12.10 (82)

PORT ADELAIDE      4.2    9.3    14.4     17.8  (110)

 

GOALS

Sydney: Franklin 4, Reid 3, Robinson, Kennedy, Jones, Tippett, Jack

Port Adelaide: Young 3, Wingard 3, Boak 2, Powell-Pepper 2, Dixon 2, Trengove, Byrne-Jones, Amon, Polec, Hartlett

 

BEST

Sydney: Kennedy, Franklin, Jones, Grundy, Parker, Reid

Port Adelaide: Wines, Ryder, Ebert, Wingard, Boak, Powell-Pepper

 

Umpires: Hosking, Ryan, Mollison Crowd: 33,129

 

OUR VOTES   3 Ollie Wines (PA), 2 Patrick Ryder (PA), 1 Brad Ebert (PA)

 

Comments

  1. Dan – in a round of surprises this was the big surprise for me. A touch of hubris perhaps in Sydney town? It will be interesting to see if Port can keep this high intensity footy going. It is also high energy footy and hard to maintain for a whole season.

  2. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Love the G Minor! Might borrow that if I may Dan.
    Well done to your lads. I was extremely glad I had to leave at three quarter time to collect a child across town!

  3. Dave Brown says

    Good to see Adelaide effectively tag team Sydney this weekend, Dan. Your title will take some beating this season.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Well played Danny and knowing,Fred John and your good self that fridge would have been well and truly in trouble after the game.wonder if in a few years,Powell Pepper is going to make some other clubs recruiting look incompetent ( bring back public stoning I say )

  5. Dan- loved the Spratly Islands idea. Could Port Power stop off at one for a training camp on their way to Shanghai? You know, to make a statement? Truly own the region.

  6. Like the look of young Sam PP, but 2 things I reckon he needs to take notice of. Number 1: if you keep saying you like to hurt people, the AFL will find a way to suspend you for long periods, usually for some minor collision only visible through an electron microscope. Number 2: Port Adelaide supporters are simple folk, multi-syllable and hyphenated names are beyond most of us; Jasper McMillan-Pittard realised this and slimmed down. Do the same, pick one of them and just use that! And Dan, should it be “Pecs” or “Pecks”? I leave it to you.
    And to the AFL; if I hear much more of the umps screaming “nominate”, I may not be responsible for my actions. Same as their previous squawk “don’t hold”; if someone’s holding, pay a free kick, otherwise shut up. It should be easy to see if only 2 players contest a stoppage and if a 3rd. person gets involved, penalise them. Or dump the rule. Or turn off the micoriaphones.
    End of rant, hoping for another win this week, that will give us the 2 out of the first 4 deemed essential by the learned scribes.

  7. Cathryn McDonald says

    Love it! it just isn’t a Port Adelaide away post-match until we empty a tiny little drinks fridge in a stadium function room :) you guys sounded awesome on the telly!

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